The Galaxy Loses Its Way Somewhere on the Road
The Galaxy, which once was considered in the same league as the New England Revolution and FC Dallas, has picked a strange time to show that it is not.
Three losses and a tie in its last four games have left the Galaxy only two losses away from being a .500 team, good enough to make the MLS playoffs but not good enough to excite anyone’s imagination.
Then there is this: Next up at the Home Depot Center on July 4 is New England, which is 9-1-4.
And Real Madrid looms on the horizon, and the question mark is huge: How can a team that can’t beat an expansion club, Real Salt Lake, on the road hope to have a prayer against the nine-time European champion?
In the long run, there is an equally disturbing scenario for Coach Steve Sampson’s stumbling squad, which once was considered the favorite to win the Western Conference but is now 7-5-3.
The Galaxy, which on Monday celebrated -- probably a poor choice of word -- the first anniversary of its most recent road victory, closes the season with seven of 12 games away from home.
In contrast, first-place FC Dallas, three games ahead of the Galaxy at 10-2-3, finishes with 10 of its last 13 at home.
Gold Cup Opportunity
FC Dallas striker Eddie Johnson has been dropped from the U.S. roster for the July 6-24 CONCACAF Gold Cup because an injury to his right big toe needs more time to heal. That means that Landon Donovan is less likely to be released for the Galaxy’s July 18 game against Real Madrid.
Without Johnson, Coach Bruce Arena’s strike force is looking thin, with only Conor Casey, Pat Noonan, Josh Wolff and, now, D.C. United’s Santino Quaranta, as his forwards. Quaranta, for no discernible reason, was called up Monday to replace Johnson.
Donovan will be needed more than ever, and Arena is unlikely to release him three days before the July 21 Gold Cup semifinal, which the Americans seem certain to reach.
Former Galaxy and current New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, Kansas City Wizard defender Jimmy Conrad and San Jose Earthquake midfielder Brad Davis are deservedly being given the chance in the Gold Cup to show they can perform at the international level.
Thanks and Goodbye
It took a certain amount of class and courage for Greg Ryan, the recently appointed coach of the U.S. women’s national team, to tell Brandi Chastain face to face that her career was over.
And it took a great deal of class for Chastain, disappointed as she must have been, to handle the news as well as she did.
Ryan flew to see Chastain and, according to Associated Press, “talked with Brandi and told her I didn’t intend to bring her back, that I was going to move on with some other players that I want to develop for 2007" when the next Women’s World Cup will be played in China.
“What I’m looking for in future defenders are qualities that she doesn’t possess at this point in her career,” Ryan said.
Chastain, two-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medal winner, could have disputed that. To her credit, she did not.
Instead, during an interview on ESPN2 during halftime of an MLS match on Saturday, Chastain, 36, smiled and said, in essence, life goes on.
“It doesn’t change anything I do in terms of how much I love soccer, how often I play soccer,” she said.
“I have a bag of balls in the back of my car. I have my cleats. I’m ready for a game ... so I’m doing exactly what I’ve always been doing, which is trying to improve as a soccer player on a daily basis.”
Chastain’s 192nd and final appearance for the U.S. was against Mexico at the Home Depot Center in December -- the same game that marked the end of the international careers of Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett.
Meanwhile, the U.S. moves on.
On Sunday, with Kristine Lilly, the last remaining member of the 1991 world championship team, making her world-record 296th appearance, the Americans defeated Canada, 2-0, in a friendly at Virginia Beach, Va.
The game marked the return of forward Tiffeny Milbrett, who had not played for the national team since November 2003. It was her 200th game for the U.S., making her the fifth player after Lilly, Hamm, Foudy and Fawcett to achieve that mark.